Western Japan city says no to Osprey drills proposed by Hashimoto

The city assembly of Yao in western Japan passed a resolution Wednesday opposing a proposal by Japan Restoration Party co-head Toru Hashimoto for the city to host some MV-22 Osprey aircraft training exercises conducted by the U.S. military.

The resolution by the city in Osaka Prefecture said it "cannot condone training exercises carried out in conditions that do not ensure safety," pointing to Yao airport's location close to urban areas.

On June 6, Hashimoto, who is also Osaka mayor, proposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that U.S. aircraft exercises be transferred from Okinawa Prefecture, which hosts the bulk of the U.S. military bases in Japan, to other prefectures, naming Yao airport as a candidate.

The city assembly typically passes resolutions unanimously, but members of the Japan Restoration Party, co-led by Hashimoto and former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, voted against it.

"I will continue to strive together with the assembly to ensure the peace of mind and safety of residents," said Yao Mayor Seita Tanaka who is opposed to hosting exercises for the transport aircraft.

Following Hashimoto's proposal, Abe instructed the Defense Ministry to look into the feasibility of the proposed training flights in Osaka.

The MV-22 Osprey has been a subject of intense controversy in Okinawa, where the U.S. military stationed a squadron of the tilt-rotor aircraft at the Marine Corps' Futenma base last October. Protests exploded over worries about the aircraft's safety following two crashes in Florida and Morocco in 2012.